Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Newcastle tell FA: Your rules don't work

Derek Llambias has strongly criticised the FA's disciplinary procedures
Derek Llambias has strongly criticised the FA's disciplinary procedures

Newcastle reacted with outrage after the Football Association announced that Wigan's 21-year-old forward Callum McManaman will not face retrospective action for his studs-up challenge on Magpies defender Massadio Haidara.

The FA confirmed that the incident was seen by at least one of the match officials - even though referee Mark Halsey was unsighted - and under current rules that means retrospective action cannot be taken.

Haidara suffered what could prove to be a serious knee injury after the challenge by McManaman, but no action was taken against the Wigan player during the match, and Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias said in a statement: "It is clear from this decision that the current disciplinary procedures are not fit for purpose."

The statement went on: "Newcastle United, along with other clubs, have had players suspended for incidents reviewed after the game. Whilst not trivialising these incidents, they were not, in our opinion, of the seriousness of Callum McManaman's tackle on Haidara.

"Whilst we understand that the current procedures give the FA limited options, it cannot be correct that the most serious offences - those which have the potential to cause another player serious harm - can go unpunished, even if the original incident was seen by match officials.

"We will now be making a strong representation to the FA and the Premier League to see how a more appropriate, fair and even-handed disciplinary process can be introduced at the earliest opportunity to prevent incidents of this nature going unpunished in the future."

The FA's rules follow a decision taken last summer - after consulting with the leagues, Professional Footballers' Association and referees - limiting retrospective action to off-the-ball incidents unseen by match officials. The rules apply unless there are exceptional circumstances, which would need to be more unusual than a late tackle, however nasty.

Llambias also responded to claims by Wigan chairman Dave Whelan that it was a fair challenge, saying the comments had "disappointed and surprised" him as they came from someone he respected.

Llambias added: "It is our strongly held opinion that the tackle on Massadio was extremely dangerous and is the type of challenge that has the potential to cause serious harm and such was the force, and reckless and dangerous nature of the challenge, even end a player's career.

"It was not a fair challenge. This view is shared by countless former players, referees and well-respected media commentators. Indeed it appears to be only Dave Whelan who takes a contrary view."

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